BOSTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Total laparoscopic hysterectomy had fewer complications and a shorter length of stay among morbidly obese women with uterine cancer, compared with an abdominal approach, according to findings presented at the annual Minimally Invasive Surgery Week.

“We wanted to look at current trends and see if we’re doing more the abdominal route or adopting more minimally invasive surgery, but also find out what obesity has to do with it,” Emad Mikhail, MD , of the University of South Florida in Tampa, said in an interview. “Morbidly obese patients are a really vulnerable group of patients; they have a lot of medical comorbidities, and when they need surgery they have an increased risk of having poor perioperative outcomes because of their BMI [body mass index].”

Dr. Mikhail and his coinvestigators identified 2,002 patients in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program ( ACS-NSQIP ) database, all of whom had a diagnosis of uterine cancer and had undergone a hysterectomy between 2005 and 2013. Patients were divided into four cohorts based on surgical route: total abdominal hysterectomy, total vaginal hysterectomy, laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, and total laparoscopic hysterectomy.

More than half of the cases were total laparoscopic hysterectomy (1,025), a third were total abdominal hysterectomy (672), about 12% were laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy (248), and less than 3% were total vaginal hysterectomy (57).

Comparing total abdominal and total laparoscopic hysterectomy – the two most commonly performed type of hysterectomy in the study – median operative times were notably higher in total laparoscopic hysterectomy: 171 minutes versus 150 minutes (P less than .05). But the laparoscopic approach had a shorter length of stay, a lower rate of hospital readmissions, and fewer surgical complications.

Within the total laparoscopic hysterectomy cohort, length of stay averaged 1 day. Dr. Mikhail reported that this cohort also had 14 blood transfusions, 13 superficial surgical site infections, 5 deep incisional surgical site infections, and 41 readmissions within 30 days, all of which were significantly lower than in the total abdominal hysterectomy cohort (P less than .05).

Mean BMI was similar in the two groups, with 34.0 in the total abdominal hysterectomy cohort and 33.7 in the total laparoscopic hysterectomy cohort.

“As the BMI goes up, more [minimally invasive surgery] is adopted, which is a great finding,” Dr. Mikhail said. “It actually serves the purpose of vulnerable patients. Instead of having an increase in perioperative morbidity, they should benefit more from a [minimally invasive surgery] approach, which this study is showing.”

Next, Dr. Mikhail said he wants to tease out what types of procedures subspecialists are performing among morbidly obese patients with uterine cancer. This type of data collection would be easier, he added, if minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons had their own taxonomy code.

“Without a code, we cannot pull data and see if being a fellowship-trained, minimally invasive surgeon has a benefit for patients,” he said. “Are those surgeons offering more minimally invasive techniques for morbidly obese patients?”

Dr. Mikhail reported having no relevant financial disclosures. The meeting was held by the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons.